Motivating Youth center set to reopen Wednesday

An east Macon youth center that the state shut down in May is scheduled to reopen next week.

The Motivating Youth Foundation, located on Main Street near Fort Hawkins, is set to open Wednesday, said Roger Jackson, the center’s founder.

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning closed the center after Jackson, a former NFL defensive back, reportedly spanked an 8-year-old girl with a belt in April after she was disruptive at school. The girl’s mother went to the authorities, and Jackson was subsequently charged with misdemeanor battery, a case that’s still pending.

Records from the department, also known as Bright from the Start, showed that seven children reported that Jackson had spanked them in recent years. Georgia’s child-care regulations prohibit corporal punishment.

Jackson’s attorney, Virgil Adams, has said that parents gave Jackson permission to spank their children.

Last month, the center reached an agreement with state regulators. The center could reopen, but Jackson’s role there will be limited to minimal contact with children. The after-school program has served more than 100 children at a time, many of whom are from single-parent, low-income families.

Now, with the start of school, Jackson said he’s looking forward to the center’s reopening.

It’s usually a week or so after school starts before the center reopens, he said, so that students can get acclimated to the new school year. He said he expects about the same number of children to participate in the program.

“We’ll be pretty close to it,” he said.

Jackson said there have been meetings with parents, and that representatives of the center have attended back-to-school sessions across the county to drum up support.

“The word is out,” he said.

To contact writer Oby Brown, call 744-4396 or find him on Twitter